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Keywords:

  • information technology;
  • computers;
  • software;
  • hardware;
  • telemedicine;
  • clinical;
  • health;
  • social;
  • nursing;
  • care;
  • delivery;
  • practice;
  • policy

Background. In an era when information technology developments are being harnessed by governments to improve patient care, it is important to consider the issues raised by the use of computers in health care practice and policy.

Aim. The aim of this paper is to provide an appraisal of considerations raised by the use of computers in health care.

Review focus. Drawing on a range of studies in the social and medical sciences, the paper reviews the considerations. The introduction to the paper maps out the policy context, which is followed by three substantive sections: first, computer hardware and software considerations; second, issues around confidentiality; and third, personal, social and cultural considerations.

Conclusion. This paper demonstrates that information technology developments must be allied with government or state direction and should be informed by evidence. Whilst the issues discussed are of primary relevance to the United Kingdom National Health Service, they have wider relevance to health care systems internationally.